Winning an All-Star is the highest individual honour that can be bestowed upon an inter-county footballer.
Of course, every player has hopes and dreams of taking home the big prize in September but to win an All-Star award is in many ways the cherry on top following a hard year’s graft.
Unfortunately, not all will have their All-Ireland achievements recognised with an individual award as that is not how the game works. It’s important to recognise the achievements of players from losing counties and so-called weaker counties. And rightly so.
With that in mind, we’ve thrown together a list of five All-Ireland winners whose achievements were never recognised with an All-Star award.
We’ve got a full-back, a full-forward and three men who could play anywhere around the middle. Considering the careers each man had, it is a surprise to learn they never won an All-Star.
A 10-year inter-county veteran, the An Ghaeltacht full-forward came into the Kerry set up at a low period for the county in 1995. By 1997, however, the Kingdom returned to the top of the mountain for the first time in 11 years with O’Cinneide providing a fresh injection into their forward line.
Following the turn of the century, the An Ghaeltacht man would take over the free-taking reins from Maurice Fitzgerald, proving to the nation that he was one of the deadliest finishers in the country. He’d collect a second All-Ireland title in 2000 before a northern wave halted Kerry’s progress.
However, O’Cinneide would return to captain the Kingdom to All-Ireland glory following a comprehensive victory over Mayo in 2004. The Kerry great would retire the following season having won eight Munster titles, three All-Irelands and two National League medals, however, that coveted All-Star award eluded him.
A teak-tough full-back, Fahey played in three All-Ireland finals with Galway over a four-year period winning twice in 1998 and 2001 where he was also captain.
Fahey was captain of a side who claimed an All-Ireland title having come through the newly-introduced back-door system in 2001, recovering from a loss to Roscommon to defeat Wicklow, Cork, Armagh, Roscommon, Derry and Meath en route to the Killanin man lifting the Sam Maguire Cup.
With stars such as Padraic Joyce, Michael Donnellan and Ja Fallon spearheading that great Galway side, the defensive work of Fahey often went unnoticed which is probably why his achievements were never recognised with an All-Star. Still one of the greats though.
Not only is Kevin ‘Hub’ Hughes one of the most underrated players in Tyrone GAA’s history but the Killeeshil man is one of the most underrated players of the 21st century. On his day, Hughes was a match for any midfielder in the country.
Perhaps why he is underrated is down to the fact that he missed Tyrone’s second All-Ireland win in 2005 [he spent the year in Australia], however, it can not be taken for granted that two of his finest performances for the Red Hand county came in the 2003 and 2008 All-Ireland finals. Hughes was a colossus at midfield for Tyrone, particularly, in 2003 where he was named the official man of the match following their maiden All-Ireland win.
Talk to anybody about that great Tyrone team of the noughties and names such as Canavan, Dooher, Gormely, Cavanagh and McMenamin usually pop up but Tyrone people will tell you yourself that ‘Hub’ was as integral to those teams as any other individual. He deserved an All-Star.
The late nineties saw a young, up and coming side begin to dominate the club scene in the shape of Crossmaglen. It was a period of dominance that lasted for nearly two full decades and yielded six All-Ireland titles. The knock-on effect saw a host of young stars from the club transform the fortunes on Armagh football.
While names such as Oisin McConville and Francie Bellew are permanently etched into Armagh folklore, John McEntee [as well as his twin brother Tony] was the embodiment of everything good about football in the Orchard County at that time.
Centre-forward on the great Armagh team that lifted Sam Maguire in 2002, McEntee was one of those footballers who had it all. He was tough, uncompromising and had a huge physical presence, but McEntee was also a silky footballer, he never looked the quickest but he always had time on the ball. He was an excellent kick-passer and a key component of Armagh’s gameplan back then to kick long, diagonal balls into Steven McDonnell and Ronan Clarke. McEntee epitomised everything that was great about Armagh’s greatest team.
Perhaps the most surprising name on this list. How Eoin Brosnan never won All-Star awards escapes most of us. A constant presence at centre-forward for the Kingdom, Brosnan could easily have played midfield or centre-back [the position he played in his last All-Ireland final], however, his ability to score goals meant he was best-utilised upfront.
Throughout his 13-year career with Kerry, Brosnan played in an astonishing seven All-Ireland finals [he missed the 2009 victory] winning three titles in 2004, 2006 and 2007. In the latter of those All-Ireland wins, Brosnan was actually a substitute but was sprung from the bench to score 1-1 against Cork.
Brosnan finished with seven Munster titles and two National League medals to go alongside his Celtic Crosses, however, an individual honour of an All-Star surprisingly eluded him throughout his distinguished career.
Check out some of our other lists including GAA cult heroes and the best five hurlers from outside the top-tier counties.
Read More About: armagh gaa, Dara O'Cinneide, Eoin Brosnan, Five All-Ireland winners who never won All-Stars, Gaelic Football, galway gaa, Gary Fahey, John McEntee, kerry gaa, Kevin Hughes, Top Story, Tyrone GAA